Are you interrupting or adding to their day?

I was listening to a channel I had tagged on Pandora – Koop Radio if you must know (I had a jones for some Swedish electronic jazz.) After Koop and a couple of related songs from similar artists, a commercial broke in. I found myself feeling annoyed. And I wondered why. After all, I knew that the commercials helped fund the free version of the service I was using. Plus, I listen to the radio in my car and I don’t feel as annoyed when the commercials come on the air. So what was going on?

Choice and personalization result in a new paradigm.

With the internet came the explosion of choices. Now I can choose what I want to listen to. Not just a general category like Top 40 radio. I can get specific (thus the somewhat obscure but oh-so delightful Swedish electronic jazz of Koop.) Here is my theory. When I can seek out and choose a more personalized experience, an interruption to that experience feels amplified.

It’s time to evolve.

The choices have evolved, but commercials have not. Now, more than ever, it is too easy for commercials to feel like interruptions. So what do we do?

As I was listening to Pandora, I found that not every commercial felt interruptive. In fact, there were the rare few that drew me in. That intrigued me. That actually got me thinking.

What was the x-factor that made this minority of commercials feel welcomed? Creativity.

Creativity is no longer an option. It’s a requirement.

By some estimations, we are exposed to 3,000 marketing message daily. With the explosion of digital channels, it’s easy to see why that number just may be valid. And it just may explain why our collective attention span has dropped by one-third in the past ten years, clocking in at just 8 seconds today.

If you are attempting to message to me in this environment, it is imperative that you either entertain, intrigue, or enlighten me. In other words, you better make creativity a priority or you won’t even get 8 seconds from me. Here’s what I mean by creativity:

  • Entertain - you are using storytelling to capture my imagination. The reward at the end of your story is an inventive payoff that endears me to your brand.
  • Intrigue - you’re appealing to my curiosity and keeping me captivated with the promise of a clever payoff that has me thinking about your brand long after your commercial has ended.
  • Enlighten - you generously share useful and engaging information that keeps me glued to your message and has me wanting more when your commercial concludes.

I get that you’re going to break into my Pandora session. I’m okay with that. But if you expect to capture even the smallest space in my brain, you’re going to have to try harder than just detailing the features of your product or service to me. And putting your name in a lame jingle doesn’t count either. You’re going to have to get creative. I’m talking about make-me-stop-what-I’m-doing-and-really-listen creative.

Otherwise, you’re just another one of the thousands of interruptions out there.